Saturday, August 16, 2014
I have been working steadily on Cold Blooded Book III: Sins and Sanctions, which I hope to release in late October. One of the items hinted at in Cold Blooded Book II: Killer Moves is Nick's stepdaughter Jean's growing obsession with Nick's line of work... but not the novelist career. There will be a free bonus story at the end in 'Sins and Sanctions' because I've been e-mailed by so many fans of the series asking about a possible teaming of Nick and a much older Jean the Assassin in a future adventure. In celebration of Rick Cantelli, P.I. Book III: Into the Darkness release day, here's the preview of the future Jean and Nick story which will be at the end of 'Sin's and Sanctions'.
She saw him walk out of the gym with bag in hand. His nondescript nature and looks made her doubt everything. Approaching him seemed a bad joke. Although around six feet tall with a solid look about him, he could have been a hundred other men. His close cropped graying hair gave him a frustrated gym-rat look rather than a sinister one. The woman sobbed. Fear clutched her insides up into a ball of misery. Remembering what her US Marshal Aunt had told her, she stood out in plain sight, trembling with her hands empty. Only a moment passed before the man who up until that second gave no indication she lived or mattered, approached her with an unhurried gait. When the man reached her, he smiled and held out his hand.
Sally grasped his warm hand. He put his other hand over hers. “Your hand is like ice. Is your car nearby?”
“It’s the Nissan over there by the curb,” Sally managed to blurt out, trying to control the tremble in her voice. “Are… are you Nick?”
Nick McCarty put an arm around her, shielding some of the wind chill blowing in from the ocean. “Yep. I’m Nick. Why don’t we talk in your car with the heater on? I can tell you’re nervous. Don’t be. We’ll talk like two old friends, and then we’ll get to know each other, or part ways with a smile, okay?”
Sally nodded without speaking, allowing Nick to guide her to the Nissan. She beeped open the locks. Nick opened her door and held it open until Sally sat down in the driver’s seat. He closed it up and went around the Nissan, quickly getting seated in the front passenger seat. Sally had already started it, putting the heater on low blow. Nick smiled at her, his eyes direct and unblinking.
“Much,” Sally replied. “Grace Stanwick is my aunt, Mr. McCarty. I went to her as a last resort. I… I didn’t know what to do. I thought as a US Marshal, Grace could help me get my daughter away from that cult she joined. My aunt said it wasn’t something she could do anything about unless approached by my daughter Kelly.”
“That is pretty much how it works, Sally. Grace told me your daughter had called you secretly, begging you to get her out of there.” Nick’s eyes narrowed slightly, his facial features chilling into an uncaring mask. “You wouldn’t be making that up to get help, would you, Sally?”
Sally shook her head no violently. She reached over to clutch Nick’s hand. “No… never… Grace was my last hope. When she told me to be here at nine o’clock at night to meet some novelist named Nick McCarty, I thought she had blown a fuse in her head.”
Nick chuckled, his face easing out of the grim featured tone he had been casting. “I’ve thought that a few times on a normal basis about your aunt. I’ve known her well over a decade, and she’s just as mental as I remember her from the first time we met. Your uncle Tim is a saint to have stayed with her. That they pulled off staying as partners is a damn miracle.”
Hearing him speak so familiarly about her aunt and uncle stopped the trembling in her hand. Nick kept holding the hand with a light touch. “My aunt told me if you decided to get my daughter back to me there would be consequences and secrets that could never be shared with anyone. At first… I really thought she was nuts. I don’t read pulp fiction, but I know you’re one of the most famous authors in the world. You’ve sold millions of novels about an assassin named Diego. I asked her how a New York Times bestselling author could help me. I thought at first she meant you could buy Kelly out of the cult.”
Nick’s face darkened like a Midwest tornado forming on the horizon. “Sorry, I don’t work that way. I don’t much care if I could buy her out of there. I’m sure Grace explained that to you.”
“Yes,” Sally acknowledged. “I… I didn’t mean it like that. I just couldn’t figure out how Grace thought you could help. She told me you don’t just write about Diego, you are Diego.”
Nick grinned, patting her hand. “Like I told my wife Rachel long ago – compared to me, Diego’s a campfire girl. I also have a couple of partners. I brought one with me. She may make you more comfortable.”
Nick’s hand went to his ear. “Hey Dagger, c’mon out here.” Nick laughed at something he heard before turning to Sally. “She’ll be out in a second. My daughter Jean’s a little rough around the edges, but I’ll need her in on this.”
Sally watched the gym door. A slim woman emerged, striding toward the Nissan with almost an acrobatic grace. The lights flickered on her grim visage, the woman’s long blonde hair, tied at her neck tightly in the back. She wore a black windbreaker, and carried a small bag much like Nick’s. As she drew closer, Sally thought she looked to be only a few inches shorter than Nick. She flung open the back door to the Nissan with suppressed anger, slamming it shut. Before she closed it, Sally noticed the thin scar running from her right eye down to her ear, and another small one at the left corner of the woman’s mouth in the dome lights dim illumination.
The woman slapped the back of Nick’s head. “I told you to stop calling me Dagger… damn it!”
Nick chuckled. “Yeah… so what?”
To Sally’s surprise she saw the grim woman grin before turning her attention to Sally.
“Who’s the mark?”
“This is Sally, Grace’s niece. Her daughter’s being held in a cult against her will. Sally, this is my daughter Jean.”